Nursing home flu vaccination rates falling below goal

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Even without a vaccine shortage to contend with, the average coverage of flu vaccination for long-term care residents has been just 58.5% in recent years - well below the 90% target rate established by Healthy People 2010, according to a recent study.

Residents with cognitive deficits and psychiatric illness were the most likely to have received immunization, according to the study, which appears in the November issue of Journal of Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. Those with accidental injuries, unstable conditions or cancer were least likely to receive a vaccine.

The study includes complete data from the 2000-2001 season, on 20,516 residents living in 249 facilities.

Healthy People 2010 is a set of disease prevention and health promotion objectives created by scientists both inside and outside the federal government. The objectives are issued under the guidance of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nursing home residents are among those at highest risk for contracting the flu, and seniors are the most likely to die from flu-related complications.

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